Archive for July, 2012

July 19, 2012

Salomone on Single-Sex Education

On July 16, Rosemary Salomone appeared on Boston’s public radio station, WBUR, to discuss plans in the state to permit single-sex public schools. You can listen to the broadcast here.

July 19, 2012

Sovern NY Times Op-Ed

Jeff Sovern has an op-ed in today’s New York Times entitled Help for the Perplexed Home Buyer. Here is the opening paragraph:

THIS month the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau proposed new rules to clarify the terms of housing loans for millions of homeowners. This sounds like a minor improvement, but in fact it’s a significant step toward preventing another subprime disaster.

You can find the remainder of the piece here.

This op-ed follows on the heels of another one that appeared in Commonweal. You can find that one here.

July 16, 2012

Di Lorenzo on Mortgage Market Reforms

Vincent Di Lorenzo’s article, “Barriers to Market Discipline: A Comparative Study of Mortgage Market Reforms,” has been accepted for publication in the Arizona Journal of International and Comparative Law. The article explores the types of regulatory reforms being considered in various nations and the likelihood that they will help us avoid a repetition of the unsafe lending practices that led to the current mortgage crisis. The following is an abstract of the article:

 This article explores regulatory reforms in response to the recent mortgage market crisis. First, the article explores the extent to which regulatory bodies have recognized behavioral barriers to market discipline on the part of both consumers and industry actors. The academic literature has long identified such barriers, but recognition by government regulators has lagged.  Without such recognition legal requirements and regulatory policies evolve without consideration of a major influence on human decision making.  Second the article examines the varied response in the U.S. and U.K. to both market limitations and behavioral limitations to self-protection and self-discipline that led to unsafe lending practices in the period 2003 through 2007. The greater emphasis on rules-based regulation in the U.S. after 2008 is compared with the continued reliance primarily on principles-based regulation in the U.K. This difference, however, is not what will determine future outcomes. Rather, the main finding is that future compliance with safety and soundness requirements will depend on a regulatory policy and enforcement record that will alter the industry’s risk assessment.  Past regulatory policies and enforcement record in most countries led industry actors to conclude that evasion, or even noncompliance, with legal requirements is a reasonable business decision based on cost-benefit evaluations. In light of that finding, the U.K.’s new enforcement policy and record, explored in this article, is far more likely to lead to compliance than the light-touch enforcement policy and record that has continued in the U.S.

 You can download the article here.

July 16, 2012

Sovern on Cooling-Off Periods in Consumer Contracts

Jeff Sovern has posted a new paper to SSRN called Written Notice of Cooling-Off Periods: A Forty-Year Natural Experiment in Illusory Consumer Protection and the Relative Effectiveness of Oral and Written Disclosures. Here is the abstract:

For more than forty years, a standard tool in the consumer protection tool box has been the cooling off period. Federal statutes, state statutes, and federal regulations all oblige merchants to give consumers three days to rescind certain contracts. This paper reports on a survey of businesses subject to such cooling-off periods. The study has two principal findings. First, the respondents indicated that few consumers rescind their purchases. Thus, the study raises doubts about whether cooling-off periods benefit consumers or whether they provide only illusory consumer protection.

Second, the study found that consumers who receive both oral and written notice of their rights are more likely to avail themselves of those rights than those who receive only written notices, and that the differences are statistically significant. Fifty-three percent of the Sellers who gave only a written notice and did not speak of the buyer’s right to cancel said buyers never cancelled, nearly double the percentage for sellers who did tell buyers (27%). Businesses that provided both oral in-person and written notices of the right to rescind were more than twice as likely to report that more than 1% of their customers cancelled contracts as those that provided only written notices. The article offers speculations about why cooling-off periods have been of such little value to consumers, and why oral and written notice combined have been more effective than written alone.

Finally, the survey asked respondents about the cost of cooling-off periods. More than four-fifths of the respondents who answered the question reported that the right to cancel had cost them either nothing or very little. This contrasts with the vehement opposition of opponents of such rules when they were first adopted in the 1960s and 1970s.

You can download the full text of Jeff’s paper here.

July 2, 2012

DeGirolami Reviews New Book on Religion in the Public Schools

Over at the Book, the online review of The New Republic, Marc DeGirolami reviews Steven K. Green’s new book, The Bible, The School, and the Constitution: The Clash that Shaped Modern Church-State Doctrine. Here is a snippet from the review:

THE PROBLEM OF the place of religion in the American public school—the “school question”—has never had a settled answer. It was a question which the framers of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution had no occasion to address and, together with many other church-state matters, left unresolved. Beginning in 1947, the Supreme Court began to answer the school question for the nation, and the rate and certitude of its answers increased in the 1960s and thereafter. Regrettably, discussion of the legal significance of the school question often begins and ends with these decisions, as if no conversation of substance had preceded them.

In his fine book, Steven Green does his part to rectify this misapprehension by exploring what have long seemed the dark ages of American church-state scholarship: the nineteenth century. In measured tones, Green shows that many of the disagreements about the school question which we believe are contemporary culture-war phenomena had antecedents in nineteenth-century debates and exchanges. Our own controversies about religion and education may not be mere duplications of the past, but they are surely part of the self-same conversation—one which, to the chagrin of some and the delight of others, remains stubbornly unfinished.

You can find the full review here.

July 2, 2012

Barrett on the Supreme Court’s Health Care Ruling

John Q. Barrett is quoted in this week’s Time magazine cover story about Chief Justice Roberts and the Supreme Court’s health care ruling. You can find the story here.

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